Thursday, October 14, 2004

I came home from work last night, drew a bath, brewed some tea, and sat down to an evening of channel surfing between the final debate and Game 1 of the NLCS. Once it looked like both Senator Kerry and the Cardinals had things under control, I went online to check e-mail and lo-and-behold read about the sexual harrassment lawsuit against Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly.

It's wonderful reading in a beach-book way. Apparently the tough-talking master of the no-spin zone likes vibrators, forcing unreciprocated phone sexon female staffers, and bragging about his sexual peccadilloes. It also shows that O'Reilly, like all bullies, has no sense of humor and carries a grudge like an elephant (read the passage where he rants about Al Franken.) O'Reilly tried a preemptive strike by filing a countersuit against his accuser, now former "O'Reilly Factor" associate producer Andrea Mackris, alleging that her lawsuit was nothing more than a sixty million dollar extortion demand on both his radio and television programs. O'Reilly is also demanding "tapes" of the sessions. He should be careful for what he wishes. I remember a sitting President once demanding a blue dress with a semen stain be produced. That President wound up being impeached.

I'm looking forward to watching O'Reilly squirm.

The Three Faces of George W. Bush

Last night's debate was effectively a draw, with Bush finally bringing up numbers to defend his allegations that John Kerry is "the most liberal member of the Yooo-nited States Senate." All Kerry had to do last night was maintain his composure while needling the President on his four-year record. He was able to do that and still look "presidential."

'Course, considering who our President has been the past four years, the bar's been set pretty low.

Bush spent the three debates trying to deflect criticism of his record by basically ignoring it, attacking Kerry as a liberal, and using catch phrases like "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" and- last night's theme- "a plan is not a litany of complaints."

More unsettling were the three different personas Bush exhibited during the debate series. There was the stammering, indecisive leader insisting that what America needed was "firm leadership" throughout the first debate. Then there was the folksy, testy Texan who spent most of the town hall debate screaming at the audience ("YOU'LL GET YOUR CANADIAN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, JUST AS SOON AS WE KNOW THEY'RE SAFE!! NOW FUCK OFF!!") and pandering to their deepest fears. Last night we got the classic "smirking chimp" Bush, who apparently found humor in every question posed to him. At one point he was smirking so much I wondered if the the satellite feed was acting up.

Despite the improvement of Bush during the debates, Kerry swept the series. He took the focus away from the Swift Boat Veterans and flip flopping allegations and eventually settled upon the wisest course of action- firmly and consistently attacking the four-year record of a President whose definition of "compassionate conservatism" means to be conservative with compassion. Bush, normally a master debater, refused to defend his record. This both exposed and highlighted one of his greatest weaknesses: his inability to admit to admit to mistakes in judgment. Some people I talked to thought that Kerry should have gone for the jugular during the debates. But that would've been out of character for Kerry and played into the Bush camp's charges of flip-flopping. In the end, Kerry chose a debate style that in its subtlety was as tenacious as an attacking pit bull, made this race a dead heat with three weeks to spare, and emerged as a statesman.

The time to go for the jugular is now at hand.

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